Sunday, September 14, 2014

The 10 Books that Have "Stayed With Me"

I can't resist participating in this recent Facebook meme, so here are ten books that have stayed with me over the years and have changed me in significant ways. One thing you'll notice is that there is a lack of fiction in my list. Unfortunately, while I read many works of classic literature in high school (quite a bit of Dickins, Tolkien, and Hemmingway, although my favorite was Moby Dick and I loved most of Chuck Palauniuk's novels), I have read very little fiction since. I hope to return to it in the future, but philosophy and theology have dominated my thinking for the last 20 years. The books are roughly in chronological order

1.     C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: My parents read this series to me when I was very young and, while I loved the story and characters, it was the theology that I was most struck by. Lewis' inclusivism and atonement theory pushed me to rethink my inherited conservative evangelicalism.
2.     Clark Pinnock, The Openness of God: My first serious theology book, which I encountered at 15. Pinnock's open theism rescued me from my view of God as a timeless, Unmoved Mover and prepared me for process theology in college. 
3.   Walter Wink, The Powers That Be: A classic text that gave me new language and concepts for sin, evil, and violence.
4.     Philip Clayton, Adventures in the Spirit: The reason I went to graduate school and became deeply interested in science, religion and process thought. Clayton continues to be a significant influence on my thinking
5.     J├╝rgen Moltmann, God in Creation: This is Moltmann at his best, in my opinion, and through it I became interested in ecological and political theology.  
6.     John Cobb, A Christian Natural Theology: Convinced me to take process philosophy seriously and that Cobb belongs on the short list of all-time greatest Christian theologians.
7.   Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: The first genuinely difficult philosophical text that I ever read. But Whitehead made great sense to me, and still does. His relational cosmology and theopoetic divinity have profoundly shaped me.
8.     Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is: Finally, a woman on my list! Johnson forever changed the way that I think and talk about God. I had encountered other feminist theology before, but this one clicked with me.
9.     John Caputo, The Weakness of God: Not my first introduction to Derrida and deconstruction, but this is where it all started to make a bit of sense to me. In many ways, Caputo is like a postmodern Paul Tillich, although he writes like nobody - playful, funny, insightful, and challenging.
10. Catherine Keller, Face of the Deep: This brilliant, deeply poetic text is the one that ultimately lured me to Drew for doctoral work with her. Keller's thinking weaves together so many of the important strands of theology that I was impacted by earlier on.

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